by Ronan MacNamara
Michael Hoey by Golffile
The Challenge Tour heads to France this week for the Hopps Open de Provence at Golf International de Pont Royal.
This Seve Ballesteros masterpiece is one of the most highly regarded golf courses in France. His only French creation, the course features wide undulating fairways and frighteningly quick greens which will test the players touch.
The holes perched on top of the highlands offer picturesque views of the Alpilles and the Durance Valley.
This course which hosted an Alps Tour event for a decade after opening will test the players off the tee in true Seve style, putting a premium on ball shaping and creativity around the greens.
The 18th hole is the signature hole which tests the players to the maximum requiring a draw to hold the fairway to leave a good angle into the severely contoured green that is protected by a water hazard.
Michael Hoey heads the Irish challenge as he looks to continue his fine form and maintain his promotion push to the European Tour.
The five-time European Tour winner lost out in a playoff at the B-NL Challenge and was in contention at the British Challenge after a second round 63. A damaging round of 74 ended his hopes of winning before a final round of 69 moved him into the top-25.
The 42-year-old has five events to ensure his place at the Road to Mallorca and move into the top-20 to secure his European Tour playing privileges for 2022.
Hoey is joined by John Murphy who has made an impressive start to life as a professional, rising to 82nd in the Challenge Tour rankings.
The Kinsale native shot a final round 65 last week to finish in a share of 11th.
The Walker Cup star has had one top-10 this season but has shown he is comfortable on Europe’s second tier.
The 23-year-old already has found French golf easy to adapt to after a share of 11th place at the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge earlier this season so a return to France could see him continue his form.
Robin Dawson and Jonathan Yates round off the Irish contingent this week.
Dawson has been fond of an early start having shot opening rounds of 64 and 66 in the last two events he has made cuts in.
The Tramore native was disqualified on his last appearance at the British Challenge so will be hoping for better fortunes in France.
The 25-year-old missed the cut at the Le Vaudreuil Challenge the last time he set foot on French soil, but he did shoot a second round 70.
Jonathan Yates is looking to arrest a hat trick of missed cuts in France.
The Naas native who has mixed it up on the Challenge Tour and EuroPro Tour has made just one cut on the Challenge Tour this season with a 25th place finish at the Vierumaki Finnish Challenge.
It has been a successful season for French golf on the Challenge Tour with Felix Mory and Julien Brun already sealing victories on the second tier.
Both players will be looking to replicate Romain Langasque’s triumphant victory here in 2018 at the inaugural Hopps Open de Provence.